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GrowingFromScratch.com
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
We're in the process of relocating out of the urban jungle to our cabin property. The soil is sandy, and I have a bunch of trees to clear in order to open up some gardening space. This might be our full time homestead temporarily, or not. I'm going to set about trying to clear some space and amend the sandy soil, but it will take time. Given the state of current events, I'm going to go the raised bed route temporarily. My plan is to hunt scrap wood, probably heat treated pallets, and build some approx. 4' x 8' beds. It breaks my personal golden rule of not buying commercial soil, but I might have to as time is of the essence. My thought is to acquire some free horse manure, but that takes time to compost properly. Also, will have access to swampy soil mentioned in another thread recently. The garden I'll be leaving behind is about 20' x 45'. Not huge, but that's a lot to replace in raised beds, and I simply won't be able to.

What other free / low cost raised bed container types might I be overlooking? Any suggestions for better options on cheap or DIY soil.
 
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We're in the process of relocating out of the urban jungle to our cabin property. The soil is sandy, and I have a bunch of trees to clear in order to open up some gardening space. This might be our full time homestead temporarily, or not. I'm going to set about trying to clear some space and amend the sandy soil, but it will take time. Given the state of current events, I'm going to go the raised bed route temporarily. My plan is to hunt scrap wood, probably heat treated pallets, and build some approx. 4' x 8' beds. It breaks my personal golden rule of not buying commercial soil, but I might have to as time is of the essence. My thought is to acquire some free horse manure, but that takes time to compost properly. Also, will have access to swampy soil mentioned in another thread recently. The garden I'll be leaving behind is about 20' x 45'. Not huge, but that's a lot to replace in raised beds, and I simply won't be able to.

What other free / low cost raised bed container types might I be overlooking? Any suggestions for better options on cheap or DIY soil.
Look into Hugelkulture. Spelling may not be correct.
 

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concrete block - a whole lot more hard labor involved but the reward is in longevity >>> I would be aiming for the long term generation garden - raised beds are always a good addition to a ground level main garden ....

start checking around for used block - sometimes free for the taking and they are a universal size between manufacturers .....
 

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no idea about your area but around here if you look around a little bit you can find some manure that is already composted in a pile ,
try making friends with a few building contractors around that area ,,here i often get scrap lumber for cleaning up a job site ,they usually have to pay to get rid of the scrape so it saves them money if you haul it off

kiddy pools make a decent smaller planter ,,or use the ground itself ,,dig a hole and use extra soil to build up the sides ,,fill hole with better soil ,,use cardboard as a "landscaping cloth" over top ,,,a little mulch to hold it down and cut hole in board to plant in ,,,this works better for plants like tomatoes /squash ect
you can do this in your garden area and improve the soil at the same time as you get some crops going
 

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GrowingFromScratch.com
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Good suggestions. I think Hugelculture might be fun to tinker with, but I don't want to gamble trying out a new approach for the first time. Using logs crossed my mind too. I have probably a dozen of 4-5 story tall, straight pines that need to come down so I can get some sun. Concrete blocks would be great, just hard to source as many as would be needed.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
My current back yard had awesome soil before I ever tore it up to start a garden. Never had to try and convert a large sandy lot. Thinking of several loads of the free manure, developing a worm farm, and cover cropping.
 

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You can save on the amount of dirt to fill it by throwing old logs and scrap in the bottom. Good water holding and as it rots down, just compost in what grew in the bed last year, unless there were pest/microbiological issues.
 

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Being an older couple, we do raised bed gardening... It is just easier on the bones..
We use a number of different things.. We use laundry sinks.. Roll to the curb garbage containers.. Plastic 55 gallon barrels.. Steel bath tubs.. And we have a pair of 6 person hot tubs...

All have good drainage.. We fill them with rabbit barn or chicken barn cleanings, or both.. After this has settled we use compost from the local land fill.. A heaping 3/4 ton pickup load is quite cheap.. This year I plan to top dress all containers with a load of black dirt..

Even with our short zone 2 growing season.. When doing container gardens we have learned it seems to require more watering than in ground gardens.. This more so in the shallower containers..

I have been told by people who have used steel stock tanks to garden that they require significant more water than other options as the steel tends to get very hot...
 
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Try this: The trees that you cut down. If they have straight trunks then you can cut them to length for the frame of the bed. Rake leaves and put down first. This should help to hold the moisture longer in the raised bed. Fill with soil. I have had success in talking to people who dig a lot, think septic tank installers, pool contractors etc. The soil is clean if a new installation. If you can't do that you will have to buy. I would mix the soil with leaves and buy some "black cow" type of fertilizer. Check PH and you should be good to go.
Side note: Cut the limbs for fire wood and don't cover. This will cause it to rot which makes good mulch for the garden.
Save all the cardboard you can find. Dumpster at store? Amazon? and use as ground cover to prevent weeds and reserve moisture in soil.
Cheap is my middle name.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I have watched a few vids on YT for bed ideas from pallets. Kind of like this one. Prying apart pallets is not optimal, so this a nice alternative. Giving it strong consideration.
 

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If this is temporary, and were you want to garden later, how about Not-raised raised beds ?

Dig our your paths and put the scant topsoil to the bed on each side = you just doubled the (scant?) topsoil in your 'beds', then fill in the paths in between the beds with the wood chips from our clearing out trees (or haul in sawdust, YES, bad idea IN the garden, but works GREAT for the paths... )

Find / add a little manure (and you can use fresh horse manure if you have to, IF you put it on thin and/or on top only, and let it sit only a couple weeks) to your beds + dolomite + etc etc.

Till the whole area in, 2 to 3 years later and you have a garden. OR, take half and manure heavy this fall, till in and plant a green manure crop and use the other half for your winter garden - repeat on the opposite side next year.

I did this several times in sandy FL, and again in Missouri. Works great, NICE paths to walk or kneel on, and incorporates a lot of organic matter (the paths will be fairly well broken down in a few years, any nitrogen tie up when you till the whole area can be easily offset by a little manure).
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
If this is temporary, and were you want to garden later, how about Not-raised raised beds ?
Short term or long term... .that is the question. It partially depends on what the housing market does. If it pops as I've long suspected it has to, then I would be looking for a more bargain priced conventional property to do the things I want to do. The property I've been discussing would return to being simply the weekend lake place. Long story short...everything is sort of in limbo, and I'm trying to straddle between an "all in" or "temporary set up" set of circumstances.
 

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If someone in your area has a trucking business that hauls gravel or stone, that kind of thing, you might check with them to see if they might have something like topsoil or even garden soil. They might have compost or manure of some kind. Well, not that they have it themselves, but they may know where to get it. And for a few hundred bucks, they might be able to deliver you some really good stuff, probably wouldn't have to be 20 tons of it, just whatever you want. Not sure where you are exactly but around here (north-central TN), there are a half dozen or so of these outfits that will pretty much bend over backwards to bring you what you wanna buy. Haulin' stuff is how they make a living. Chances are, they may just know where some of the "good stuff" is. ;)

Good luck!
 

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Great suggestions. I suggest scrap metal roofing, cut into 12-24" wide strips, pinned at the corners with scrap wood stakes and nailed to them. If you can, on the outside, put another stake between the stakes on the end and 2-3 on the long sides. Put bigger rocks along the outside, between the stakes that are edging it. If you have enough, layer the sides and ends for strength. I used a metal blade in a circular saw to cut the strips. My FIL had both.

If you have any punky, rotting wood, put that inside the raised beds, on scrap cardboard, if possible. Pile leaves on top. Pile that swampy dirt on top of that, heap it up if you can, it will settle in as the water soaks the leaves and punky wood.

DO NOT...DO NOT mix in fresh manure until it has been aged in the open air and been turned with a shovel several times. Fresh manure will burn the crap out of your plants. In the Fall, chop up your previously harvested garden and pile it into the beds, pile up more leaves on that, put more swampy soil on top of it all. Cover with black plastic and wiegh down with some of the rocks bordering the bed.

I used construction waste bags, sides slit and layered over top. That will heat up the bio mass under it and make it break down faster during the cold months. Take it off in the Spring, a week before you plant, to cool the bio mass down temperature wise and turn the biomass with a garden fork. Then plant....

Should be free or almost. I sit on an upside down 5 gallon bucket and pick weeds, bugs and suckers. I try not to spend money.
 
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